Manchester City vs Everton | Saturday 06 December | Etihad Stadium | 19:30
To Win (90mins)
Manchester City 6/10
Manchester City put three goals past Southampton to move into second place on the Premier League table last weekend, a display that reminded viewers, especially from Chelsea, that the title race is far from over. The Sky Blues closed the gap to just six points as Jose Mourinho’s side failed to find the net for the first time this season with the stubborn Black Cats holding them to a goalless draw. City were looking like their old selves, oozing class as they dominated the Saints at St. Mary’s despite going a man down. Eliaquim Mangala was sent off after 74 minutes following a second yellow card for a clumsy challenge. It has taken City some time to find their groove and although they’re yet to find their best form, Pellegrini’s men are on the right track. City will be full of confidence and looking to make it three consecutive victories in the league on Saturday when they host an Everton side in discomfort.
David Silva is set to hand Pellegrini a boost as the Spaniard is expected to make a return to the starting lineup after overcoming a knee injury sustained in City’s Capital One Cup defeat to Newcastle in October. The biggest concern for City fans will be whether Vincent Kompany will be available for the clash after suffering a hamstring injury last weekend. Kompany is City's rock at the heart of their defence, and while the depth behind him is solid, none of the available options can offer the same blend of experience, leadership, vision and raw athleticism. Sergio Aguero didn't score last weekend but that didn't matter as the Argentine was in scintillating form once again, building on his excellent showing against Bayern Munich with another brilliant performance. He created or had a hand in all of the goals, should have had a penalty and tormented Southampton's back line throughout. Aguero has scored fourteen goals in his last twelve appearances for Manchester City in all competitions, a stat that Martinez will feel uneasy about.
Everton went down 2-1 to Tottenham at White Hart Lane last weekend and have struggled to replicate last season’s form that saw them clinch fifth place in the league. The Toffees have recorded just four victories thus far and suffered four defeats in thirteen matches played. They are currently in tenth position in the league standings and ten points off their opponents. Martinez’s men are yet to find any sustained fluency. Wins against Lille and Wolfsburg in the Europa League were undoubtedly the best moments of November and raised expectations for the rest of the month. In the Premier League, however, the performances that have accompanied those wins have been less impressive. Defeat at Tottenham and draws with Sunderland and Swansea were all games the Toffees should have done better in, while the win over West Ham United wasn't exactly a convincing showing either.
After several games of fluctuating influence, Romelu Lukaku's form has steadied, slightly. He was very poor against Sunderland, but his all-round game improved in every other match last month. Against Lille, he was excellent, mainly due to a more consistent first touch and some much better link-up play. His goals against Wolfsburg and West Ham also marked some much-improved consistency from the Toffees' record purchase. Kevin Mirallas is the man capable of causing City problems this weekend. The Belgian was excellent against Wolfsburg, scoring and laying off an assist in a hugely impressive win for the club. He also registered a stunning strike against Spurs, though he struggled to impose himself much after the goal.
VERDICT: Manchester City 6/10
Manchester City are favourites at 6/10 while Everton are priced up at 9/2. If City didn’t impress you with their display against Southampton last weekend then you probably didn’t watch the match. The Sky Blues showed their class from start to finish and will look to inflict more misery on Martinez’s men. City’s pace, drive and their trademark confidence have seemed to return, especially after scoring two more goals after going down to ten men away. Look out, they're back. Everton have no chance. Back the champions to reign victorious. City are a banker bet to win the match but taking them to win half-time/full-time will get you more value at 13/10. Get on.